Volume 8, Issue 131; 11 Oct 2005; last modified 08 Oct 2010

This administration has gone mad. [Update: perversely so.]

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

Charles Mackay

I wasn't surprised that a handful of senators voted against McCain's ammendment to forbid torture. I wish I had been surprised, seeing as how I like to imagine that there are some things we can all agree on, but I wasn't. I expect you could find some support for almost any act of inhuman wickedness, if you dressed it up in the right jingoism.

The Bush administration's pledge to veto the amendment is disgraceful beyond my ability to find words. Can we possibly count ourselves among the civilized nations of the world if we don't oppose torture under any circumstances?

Do I really understand this correctly? We attempt to impeach Presidents for lying about sex, but not for openly supporting the use of torture on human beings?

What the fuck?!

[Update: 25 Oct 2005. Not satisfied with simply vetoing the bill, according to The Washington Post, “The Bush administration has proposed exempting employees of the Central Intelligence Agency from a legislative measure…that would bar cruel and degrading treatment of any prisoners in U.S. custody.” In other words, they want to explicitly give the CIA permission to engage in torture.

What the fuck?!” doesn't even begin to cover it.]


Politics here in the UK and over there in the USA is totally screwed up. If I wasn't young, broke and unelectable anyway, I'd have reached the point at which I stood for office myself years ago.

Just wondering - you aren't young, broke and unelectable - why don't you get involved? You sure as hell can't do any worse than the clowns you have at present. At what point does politics get so bad that you'd personally switch careers to fix it?

—Posted by Jim on 11 Oct 2005 @ 02:42 UTC #

I'm not an American citizen, just a foreign observer. I would have thought this torture question was not unrelated to the death penalty question. For me, Australia became a more civilised place when we got rid of the death penalty in the late 60s. My own subjective criteria for "when can a country call itself civilised" includes "no death penalty" and "no torture". That said, I know there are Americans who would argue that the USA is civilised, in spite of failing these two tests. Civilised in the way that ancient Rome was civilised, anyway.

—Posted by Anthony B. Coates on 11 Oct 2005 @ 03:25 UTC #

My subjective criteria would include "has agreed not to execute minors". Only the USA and Somalia have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child - 191 other countries have. Somalia have an excuse; they don't have a recognised government.

Regardless of anybody's opinion on capital punishment, I would have expected that *everybody* could agree to not execute minors.

—Posted by Jim on 11 Oct 2005 @ 04:30 UTC #

Note that the McCain amendment actually says "Don't use any methods not in The Book", and torture isn't in The Book for a simple reason: it's tactically ineffective. Men being tortured will say what they think their interrogators want to hear. So the Bush Administration doesn't want to allow torture because they think they need it, but simply because they can.

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." --Eph. 6:12

—Posted by John Cowan on 11 Oct 2005 @ 06:42 UTC #

Possibly, some countries that forbid torture on their own soil may occasionally ship prisoners off to areas where it is not forbidden, is this in itself a crime? Would it be a crime just to mention this possibility to a prisoner?

—Posted by Gary on 12 Oct 2005 @ 03:32 UTC #


this is another non-American (although living currently in Cambridge, MA). I am more or less against death penalty and strongly against any kind of torture (being both inhuman and ineffective). However, being a (former) lawyer, I am probably too much used to find a problematic questions to any clear-cut stand, but still. So let's discuss this hypothetical:

Police finds out that somewhere in the center of the million-plus city is hidden A-bomb and it will explode tonight. They have in custody the maker of the bomb, who is however pretty content with the idea, that he (and everybody else) will be blown up. There is no problem of untrustiness of the information obtained by torture (you just go and check it) and he is the only one who can save the city.

You have seen this story in many catastrophic movies, but I still haven't found a good answer why one would not torture this guy to collaboration.

Any thoughts?

—Posted by Matej Cepl on 03 Dec 2005 @ 01:31 UTC #

The maker of the bomb doesn't care. He/she(?) would probably make up locations which the police has to check, until the bomb explodes.

That's presumably why the police in the UK has the shoot-to-kill policy on suspected suicide bombers. If you just shoot them in the leg they blow themselves up, goal accomplished (for them).

What gets me is why other countries let the USA get away with all that. Nobody has the guts to stand up against them. Mind you, with globalisation it is hard to achieve anything these days.

I find it increasingly uncomfortable to live in the UK, where our government is basically just following America's lead.

—Posted by Oliver Mason on 05 Dec 2005 @ 04:54 UTC #

Heard about tortures in Iraq? Any other questions to the president and government?

—Posted by Eugene on 10 Dec 2005 @ 07:45 UTC #